MDI is pleased to announce the publication of the video of the debate ‘Do SlutWalks Harm Feminism?’. The UCL (University College London) debating society held a debate on the topic ‘This House believes SlutWalks Harms Feminism’, and they invited myself to argue against the motion.
What is ‘Slutwalks’ you say? Well, it’s a complicated internal debate amongst feminists – with feminists on one side advocating protests with women wearing revealing clothes (called ‘slutwalks’) to advocate that women should be allowed to wear sexually explicit or very revealing clothes in public and not be ashamed (or otherwise ‘slut-shamed’) for it or face negative social reactions – they argue that the liberation of women’s ‘sexual autonomy’ (yes, ‘autonomy’ a buzzword from the creed of individualism) cannot come about unless they claim the word ‘slut’ for themselves and be proud of it. They argue that women claiming the word ‘slut’ offers women ’empowerment’.
The other side of the debate argues that the protests ‘send the wrong messages’ and may contribute to the sexual objectification of women, and the conforming to ‘male-defined attitudes of sexuality’. However, the ‘against side’ are not too different from the other side. They too advocate women’s ‘sexual autonomy’ and freedom to wear very revealing clothes without suffering any kind of negative social reaction. So where’s the difference between the two? It’s not really a difference in ideology, but in PR. One side says ‘SlutWalks’ harms the public image of feminism, the other says it doesn’t.
Into this milieu, I argue from an Islamic perspective to illustrate to both sides some home truths about feminism.
An audience of UCL students votes at the end of the debate to decide (watch the video to find out the result).